NFL Media Fees Document Unsealed Against League/DirecTV Wishes

February 25, 2011

The first document in the so-called “lockout insurance” case between the National Football League and its players’ union (NFLPA) became yesterday, February 24.

The document regards the union’s brief to the federal court in Minnesota contending the court should overturn a special master’s decisions allowing the league to use US$4bn of media fees in 2011 if there is a lockout.

All documents have been sealed in the process since it began early last year, and the brief is redacted, with key numbers darkened out.

However, it does include excerpts of deposition transcripts and testimony, including from league execs like NFL Exec VP/Media and NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein and Commissioner Roger Goodell conceding that the lockout insurance was a critical element in renewing the broadcast deals.

The news comes after late on Wednesday, February 23, DirecTV filed a motion in Minnesota federal court seeking to block the unsealing of its confidential records in the closely watched NFL media fees case.

Two local Minnesota newspapers are seeking a complete unsealing of records in the players union’s case against the NFL, in which the union alleges the league took lower media payments in return for guaranteed payments during a possible lockout. The arguments in that case were thought to be heard yesterday, February 24, but the DirecTV and the NFL could not prevent the unsealing.

DirecTV had said unsealing the records, which includes the contract and privileged communications, would expose the satellite channel’s NFL strategy, thereby impairing its ability to renew the deal in 2014.